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San Diego
Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Buildings Equipped With Internet Access, Web-Style Directories

Office and Lobby Amenities Attract Tenants

Internet service providers are continually trying to attract customers by offering more than just the ‘Net.

San Diego-based inBuilding Systems Corp. is no exception.

The 5-year-old company has weaved its own “Web” in a growing industry by offering a high-speed Internet access program for small- to medium-sized businesses in multitenant office buildings nationwide.

In October, inBuilding reached an agreement with Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, which manages more than 2,000 buildings across the country. Recent alliances also include Newport Beach-based The Irvine Co., and Portland, Ore.-based ScanlanKemperBard Cos., which together represent more than 200 tenants on the West Coast.

InBuilding’s package includes Internet access for tenants who want it, a Web-enabled lobby directory and other related services. The program is designed to be a bargain amenity for both building owners and their tenants, according to Joe E. Russell, CEO of inBuilding.

– Features Used To

Attract Tenants

Russell said most building owners and managers like the service because it can be used as a way to attract and retain tenants at no cost to them.

“They are extremely interested in what we are doing. They are all looking for amenities and they all want their building to have access to the Internet,” he said.

Getting high-speed access to the Web can be a costly and long process for building tenants, he added. Currently, if tenants want to hook up to the Internet, they must find a provider and have a line run to their suite. It can take several weeks to get this done and it can cost as much as $1,000 to $2,000 a month, he said.

“If the tenant next door also wants to get that access, they have to repeat the whole process again,” he said.

Rick Randolph, managing director of technical services for CB Richard Ellis, compared this process to a business paying for a 12-lane highway when it may only need four lanes. InBuilding on the other hand, offers the same highway, but only charges customers for the lanes they use to provide a “significant savings for the tenant.”

– Designed With

Input From Experts

In order to design a nonexclusive package that would be attractive to building owners and tenants, inBuilding consulted with real estate and telecommunications experts, Russell said.

This strategy may have worked. According to Randolph, CB Richard Ellis “really felt that they understood the real estate market and the environment of a multiple-tenant office.”

– Bringing Tenants

An Amenity

InBuilding pays building owners a fee to install Digital Subscriber Line hardware at a central location, such as the basement of a building. Using existing, unused telephone lines, the company connects tenants to the ‘Net.

“By doing it that way we’re able to do it much more efficiently and cost effectively for the tenants,” Russell said.

According to Russell, this approach allows inBuilding to connect users to the ‘Net in days and for several hundred dollars a month depending on usage requirements.

Tenants are still free to choose any Internet service provider, which inBuilding believes is important.

“We’re not in the business of offending a tenant,” Russell said. “We want to bring them an amenity. We believe that we have such a compelling amenity that they will always want to use us vs. somebody else. But they can always use whomever they want.”

CB Richard Ellis chose inBuilding over other providers in part because they offered services that “keep tenants happier” and at no cost to the building owners, Randolph said.

InBuilding’s services are just one part of a larger plan for CB Richard Ellis. The company wants to offer its tenants a variety of telecommunications services by using an assortment of access channels, such as wireless and fiber-optic technologies, Randolph said.

These services will allow clients to have redundancy in the systems they use to conduct business, he said.

Randolph believes offering these services to tenants will become more important in the future, especially for smaller office buildings with smaller businesses.

So far, inBuilding has received a favorable response from tenants and building owners, he said.

“They like that the building has high-speed bandwidth available. Each company has an E-strategy and having conductivity to the Internet is just one of the pieces,” Randolph said.

– Lobby Directory

Part Of Services

InBuilding is also the only company that offers a Web-enabled lobby portal, or directory, as part of its services. The portal is a 42-inch gas plasma touch screen that is connected to the ‘Net.

“The portal is something that is truly cutting edge and (building owners) really like that. They like bringing their lobby into the 21st century,” Russell said.

A quarter of the screen is dedicated to a building directory that can include listings for up to six surrounding buildings. Available office space, prices and local maps can also be provided for the surrounding area.

Property managers can also input changes that will automatically post to the directory through a secure Web site, Russell said.

The rest of the screen offers news, weather, traffic, sports and concierge services on a real-time basis.

Although Russell admits most people could get this information from their desktops, he says the portals would be used by building visitors or people who are waiting for elevators.

Although building owners do not pay for this service, inBuilding makes its money by selling advertising space on the portal. Unlike typical banner ads on the ‘Net, the company runs full-motion video ads like those on television, Russell said.

Randolph said tenants in his Newport Beach building use the portal all the time and that it gives employees and visitors access to a lot of information.

CB Richard Ellis is also exploring the possibility of placing the portal in elevators as well, he said.

Although inBuilding would not disclose its sales or revenues, Russell said sales are growing quickly.

Currently, inBuilding is hooking up tenants to the Internet in several San Diego office buildings and will be placing a portal in a Downtown office in the coming year.

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